De-creation of the Old Covenant World or the Planet? by Michael Sullivan Click here for Part 5 Apocalyptic language – “The stars shall fall from…
Posts tagged as “theology”
In this series of articles, we will turn our attention to answering very important theological and political questions regarding modern Israel. Is modern Israel Biblical Israel and does she have any prophetic significance today? Should modern Jews be considered “God’s people” having some divine right to steal, kill and conquer in the middle east according to the OT and NT? Were all of the “in the land” promises fulfilled in the OT and were they typological of being fulfilled spiritually “in Christ” today in the new covenant age? Are most modern Jews today in Israel biologically related to Abraham? And if modern Israel does not fulfill the land promises in the Bible, then when and how were these prophecies fulfilled? Was 1948 a miraculous gathering of biblical Jews into land or simply an ungodly Talmudic Zionist Rothschild project?
Coming Upon the Clouds of Heaven in Judgment (Dan. 7:13-14; Mal. 3-4)
In Part 1 of our series, we looked at the modern Zionist or “Jewish” objection to Christianity around this time of year (Christmas) – “the OT nor Jewish tradition teaches the concept of a Messiah that is divine or has eternal origins. Christianity is purely made-up religion completely foreign to Jewish thought and theology.” We of course were able to demonstrate that Jews indeed expected a divine Messiah from Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6-7 and Micah 5:2.
Here in Part 2, we continue demonstrating the Jewish expectation in a divine eternal Messiah, except now we turn our attention to Second Coming passages. Here we encounter another “Jewish” objection on the alleged failure of Jesus to come upon the clouds of heaven in His contemporary generation:
(Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6-7 and Micah 5:2)
Many Christians do not celebrate Christmas viewing it as a pagan Roman Catholic holiday while others do but focus on celebrating the incarnation of the God-man – Jesus Christ instead of talking about Santa Claus. Many modern Jews around this time of year scoff at Christians for holding the doctrine of the incarnation or teaching that the Messiah is divine having eternal origins. They insist that Christians have “invented their own religion separated from the OT Scriptures and Jewish traditions.” They insist that they have taught all along that Messiah is to be a mere man. Is this true?
They also mock Christians for ignoring that Jesus taught His Second Coming would take place in the first-century generation (Mt. 10:22-23; Mt. 16:27-28 and Mt. 24:27-34) and therefore, was a false prophet. Space forbids a detailed dive into these subjects, but we can begin to scratch the surface by addressing some key texts and what Jewish tradition has taught concerning the eternal origins of the Messiah and Jesus’ claims.
The complexity of the God-head existed in the OT before we even reach the NT and the Christian view of the Trinity emerges. If the Scriptures said that no one could see God and live (cf. Ex. 33:20), how is it that these same Scriptures taught that people saw Him on the earth (and didn’t die) while at the same time He sat enthroned in heaven running the universe? Didn’t God come in human form, even talking and eating with Abraham, wrestling with Jacob, and leading the armies of Israel? How was God in heaven seated on His throne ruling the universe while at the same time being in the form of a man doing all of these things? The Jews debated and struggled over these issues.
It is time for Christians to acknowledge that modern Christianity has been badly damaged by the pagan values of the Enlightenment. For the first 1600 years of the Church, our fathers in the Faith and the flesh held as central to the Christian life two principles that spanned all denominations and sects. First, God’s will must be central to the life of every man and every Nation. Second, God’s providential hand is powerfully active in Creation every day.
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.Matthew 24:36-51
Being “left behind” is sometimes a bad thing and sometimes a good thing. If you are a child on a long road trip with your family and you stop at a rest area, and you are left behind that, of course, is a very bad thing. If you are on the elementary school playground and they are picking teams, being left behind is a very bad thing. If you are living in a coastal village in Europe any time from the fall of Rome right up until the modern age, and Norse or Arab raiders come to enslave you (as happened regularly) you very much do want to be left behind. What matters is who is doing the taking and leaving in this scenario. In our passage today, Jesus talks about people being taken and left behind. Obviously, many people read these passages through the lens of the Scofield Reference Bible and rapture pop-fiction, but the Bible does not want us to read it through the lens of 19th and 20th Century novelties, it wants to be read in its own context. The founder of Voice of the Martyrs, Richard Wurmbrand, had a passage in his book, Tortured For Christ, where he talked about teaching the Bible to Communists inside the Iron Curtain. When he would try to explain certain parables like the Good Shepherd, they could not understand what he was talking about. They would say things like “why does this guy have all those sheep? Those belong to the state, he is a criminal who is hoarding them for himself.” They did not understand because they had no idea what the context was. They were reading the story as if Jesus was living in the 20th Century Soviet Union. This might be comical to us to look at them from the outside, but as 21st Century Americans, we often do the same thing. We read these gospels as if these people are just like us, living in a world just like ours, with a history and a culture just like ours. That is a major mistake. We need to read the New Testament like we are aliens from another planet who have crash-landed in First Century Israel. Their culture and history and way of life are totally alien to us and we must first understand that rather than assuming they are operating in our context. Our passage today is a prime example.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.Matthew 24:29-35
In the last few weeks we have been looking at what is called “the Olivet Discourse,” where Jesus explains to the apostles about how the destruction of the Old Covenant was going to take place. There is probably today no section of the Bible where both the historical context and the literary context (the context within the story Matthew is telling) is so totally neglected. From the start of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus has been re-living the history of Israel. The genealogy at the start shows that He is Israel’s true king, he descends down to Egypt like the patriarchs in Genesis, he comes up from Egypt, He crosses into the land at the Jordan, He spends 40 days in the wilderness like Israel’s 40 years, He gives them law in the Sermon on the Mount like Moses at Sinai, he tells proverbs and riddles like Solomon in His parables, He finally preaches like the prophets announcing the doom of an unbelieving Israel that has rejected her God and perverted His worship. Everything in the gospel is about Jesus coming to Israel and in Himself being the Israel that Israel was incapable of being. He came to them as a faithful Israel where they and their fathers were unfaithful. Everything was about ministering to these particular people. So much so that when Gentiles wanted Jesus to do something for them, He refused, and they had to beg Him to change His mind. So Jesus all of a sudden doesn’t go from ministering to and preaching to and prophetically condemning Israel, to randomly jump ahead thousands of years, and then jump right back into ministering to and preaching to and prophetically condemning Israel. Jesus is talking about the Israel he came to minister to. He is not talking about us or people 500 or 1000 years from now; what He says can be applied to us and those Christians 25 or 50 generations from now. But for now we have to look at it as best we can through the eyes of those who lived 2000 years ago in Judea.
15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.
26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.
27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.Matthew 24:15-28
When you hear the phrase “the abomination of desolation” what do you think of? Many people think it is a reference to a figure far off in the future, who will lead world governments against Jesus. Many people think it is about “the Antichrist.” But what is it really about? What is Jesus talking about here?
As we continue through Matthew’s Gospel, we have seen Jesus fight with the leaders of Israel at the very center of Israel—inside the temple. And Jesus now, after judging the temple and finding it to be leprous, declares that it will be destroyed. And where we pick up in the story, Jesus has just told His disciples how they will experience persecution from the Jews as they preach the gospel all throughout the Greco-Roman world.
by Michael Sullivan Click here for Part 4 In part 4 we saw how the Great Tribulation and times of the Gentiles were discussing God’s…